Pandemic acceleration

Increasing growth as restrictions return

Man on video call drinking a pint
Tight restrictions on hospitality have led to a spike in grocery alcohol sales. Image: DC Studio/

HOME working and a hurting hospitality sector have driven grocery growth figures higher in recent weeks.

Data specialist Nielsen has revealed that year-on-year total till sales growth for the last four weeks ending 3 October increased from 5.6% to 8.3% as consumer spent more time at home.

Alcohol sales showed strong growth, up 17% during the period, followed closely by frozen at 16% growth.

Nielsen noted that while there has also been significant growth for disinfectants (+92%) and toilet tissue (+34%), growth levels for these products still falls well short of the levels seen during the peak of the pandemic, suggesting consumers are not currently panic buying.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen UK head of retailer and business insight, said: “Since March, households in the UK have had to continually adjust to new ways of working, living and eating. This is reflected in the volatility of weekly FMCG sales.”

Kantar data for the 12 weeks to 4 October painted a similar picture, with UK alcohol sales in the retail channel up £261 million for the period.

Symbols and independent continued to perform well, posting value sales growth of 19.9%. The only channel to surpass convenience stores in growth terms was online where retailer Ocado posted sales growth figures of 41.9% on last year.

 Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar said: “Shoppers are moving a greater proportion of their eating and drinking back into the home.  This is likely a response to rising Covid-19 infection rates, greater restrictions on opening hours in the hospitality sector, and the end of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.